U.S. men’s archer Brady Ellison and women’s archer Khatuna Lorig have a combined seven Olympic appearances.
Heading into the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, both veterans are attempting to do something a little different: Lead a team of first-time professional archers to the medal stand in Varsity Stadium.
At the 2011 Pan American Games, the U.S. men’s and women’s teams took home gold and silver medals in their respective team events. This year, each team is looking to have repeat success.
The 2015 World Archery Championships, scheduled for July 26-Aug. 2 in Copenhagen, Denmark, serve as the first time Team USA can qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
Both coaching staffs have looked at how the teams can respond under pressure. The Pan American Games serve as a chance to improve and grow cohesively as a group.
“Our goal for the entire team is to go there and have a solid performance,” women’s coach Guy Krueger said. “We had some specific performance goals we want to achieve there that is more skill related. These are really going to help us prepare for the world championships.”
Lorig returns to the women’s team as the unquestioned leader of the group. She is a five-time Olympian and an Olympic bronze medalist. The women’s team is rounded out by two first-time senior archers in LaNola Pritchard and Ariel Gibilaro.
The team is the first women’s archery team to train together at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, and gained a lot of attention after winning bronze at the 2015 World Cup Stage 1, which took place in May in Shanghai.
“We shot very well and all of us are very happy with how we performed in Shanghai,” Pritchard said. “It definitely adds momentum for the next coming tournaments to keep the positivity of the strong shooting going.”
Pritchard has been hard at work preparing for the 2015 Pan American Games. Her daily routine includes a lot of shooting exercises and weightlifting. She also adds in a little bit of yoga during her week as well. Along with her team, she is working hard on improving her shooting accuracy ahead of the event.
“A lot of times we will do an exercise called scoring,” Pritchard said. “We simulate the competition so when we get to a tournament we are used to the scoring. We also do different drills that simulate pressure so that we are used to it.”
Ellison returns to anchor the men’s team. He is the only U.S. recurve archer to reach three straight world cup finals and has previously been ranked No. 1 in the world. The 2012 Olympic team silver medalist is joined by two first-time senior archers in Collin Klimitchek and Zach Garrett.
Ellison won gold in the 2011 Pan Am individual competition and has won gold in the past two team competitions. In Toronto, he hopes to win a third team gold.
The archery competition will take place from July 14-18 with both individual and team competitions.
Jaylon Thompson is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.